Healing Power

Running commentary on how Jesus' Healing Power is affecting my life - and helping me to help others.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Why David?

Why does scripture refer to David as "a man after God's own heart"? I mean, he was a murderer, an adulterer, a bigamist - to put it bluntly, he was a sinner. So, what makes David a man after God's own heart?

I'll be honest, I never questioned the scriptures. I just accepted at face-value that David was who the scriptures said he was. It was actually another person who asked that question long before I became a Christian. And today, after much study, I feel I'm qualified to answer that question.

Here are the highlights of David's life. David loved the Lord. David wrote many psalms of praise to the Lord before he was ever recognized by the masses as someone important. David sang praises while he watched his sheep. Before he became royalty, David put God first in everything he did. When he was a shepherd, he knew that God would protect him from the wild animals. When he fought Goliath, he did so with complete faith in the Lord - more faith than most of us would be able to muster. When he fled for his life from Saul, he did so with the understanding that God would keep him safe, even though he had to flee from his home.

While king, David brought the Ark of the Covenant back into Jerusalem from where it was being kept after its return from the Philistines. He led Israel in a great revival for the Lord. He begged the Lord for permission to build a temple, though the Lord denied the warrior David this request. His love for the Lord knew no bounds.

But those wonderful highlights are tarnished by some of David's tabloid-topping acts of recklessness.

  • David fell in love with a beautiful, married woman. He slept with her and to cover up his sin, had her husband murdered.
  • David took a census of the Israelites to determine his fighting army, demonstrating a lack of faith in the Lord
Was David, then, unqualified to be called "a man after God's own heart?"

Firstly, David was human. Humans are not perfect. Humans are prone to errors in judgment, even those errors that seem so huge on the face of it. Humans are prone to adultery. Humans are prone to murder - either out of rage or to cover an indiscretion. Humans are prone to sin. That's what the incident in the Garden was all about. You know the one - where the serpent coerced Eve into sinning by eating the one thing she was commanded not to eat.
So David was human and that meant he was prone to the same sins as you and I. Had he lived a perfect life, he would have been nailed to a cross instead of his descendant Jesus Christ.

David also paid for his sin with a curse from God. That curse ultimately led to the death of his son, Absalom, and the civil war two generations later. So we see that there was consequence to David's sin - just as there is consequence to our own sin.

But, most importantly, David was repentant. When called on the carpet for his sin, David owned up to his sin and confessed that it was his own doing, not someone else's. He also sought to "be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect" - Matthew 5:48, NIV. That, I think, is David's master stroke. By confessing his sin, owning up to it, David showed to the Lord that he knew he was not any better than the common people - unlike the king that preceded him and many of the kings that followed. By repenting and pursuing transformation and perfection in the Lord, he showed the rest of us that it's possible for us as well.

Let's look at the Bathsheba Affair for a moment. We can see that there are several benign errors in judgment that led to the front page of the tabloids. Read from 2 Samuel 11:1-15 (NIV):

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, "I am pregnant."
So David sent this word to Joab: "Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house and wash your feet." So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master's servants and did not go down to his house.

When David was told, "Uriah did not go home," he asked him, "Haven't you just come from a distance? Why didn't you go home?"

Uriah said to David, "The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord's men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!"

Then David said to him, "Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back." So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. At David's invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home.

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die."

Wow. That's pretty harsh. OK - let's look at his mistakes:

  1. He didn't go to war at the time the kings usually went. Maybe he was tired of fighting. Maybe he thought, "I'll sit this one out and go to the next war." At any rate - it was "the spring, at the time when kings go off to war" and David didn't go.
  2. He saw a woman bathing. Hey - there's nothing wrong with accidentally seeing something like that. And I'll be the first to admit that it's hard to do the right thing and avert your eyes. So he saw someone. Not really a big deal.
  3. He pursued the matter. Wo - that's going too far. He should've left it well enough alone. This is where the slope got more slippery than he could handle. He sent people to get her, and they had a good time together. For her, it was probably something equivalent to a groupie and a rock star. But the seed was planted, and she conceived a child.
  4. He tried to cover it up. David sent for her husband to come home from the fighting, hoping that Uriah would go home for a conjugal visit and then think that the baby was his. But Uriah, being a better soldier than David at this point, only went home for a short while. Twice David tried to entice Uriah to return home, and twice he was foiled.
  5. David had Uriah murdered. Well, not really. David told the soldiers to advance into heavy fighting then back off, leaving Uriah all alone on the front lines. You've seen it at weddings. The garter comes flying back and all the guys back up except one. Well, that one was Uriah.

  6. So now, David has a pregnant groupie and a dead soldier. And he has at least one witness: Joab his army's commander. Joab doesn't know why David wanted Uriah dead, all he knows is that his king told him to make sure it happened. The deed is done, and all's well that ends well. Right? Don't forget though, that the Omniscient God in Heaven knows all and sees all. So God sent a prophet named Nathan to call David out regarding his problem:

    But God was not at all pleased with what David had done, and sent Nathan to David. Nathan said to him, "There were two men in the same cityone rich, the other poor. The rich man had huge flocks of sheep, herds of cattle. The poor man had nothing but one little female lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up with him and his children as a member of the family. It ate off his plate and drank from his cup and slept on his bed. It was like a daughter to him.

    "One day a traveler dropped in on the rich man. He was too stingy to take an animal from his own herds or flocks to make a meal for his visitor, so he took the poor man's lamb and prepared a meal to set before his guest."

    David exploded in anger. "As surely as God lives," he said to Nathan, "the man who did this ought to be lynched! He must repay for the lamb four times over for his crime and his stinginess!"

    "You're the man!" said Nathan. "And here's what God, the God of Israel, has to say to you: I made you king over Israel. I freed you from the fist of Saul. I gave you your master's daughter and other wives to have and to hold. I gave you both Israel and Judah. And if that hadn't been enough, I'd have gladly thrown in much more. So why have you treated the word of God with brazen contempt, doing this great evil? You murdered Uriah the Hittite, then took his wife as your wife. Worse, you killed him with an Ammonite sword! And now, because you treated God with such contempt and took Uriah the Hittite's wife as your wife, killing and murder will continually plague your family. This is God speaking, remember! I'll make trouble for you out of your own family. I'll take your wives from right out in front of you. I'll give them to some neighbor, and he'll go to bed with them openly. You did your deed in secret; I'm doing mine with the whole country watching!"

    Then David confessed to Nathan, "I've sinned against God."

    Nathan pronounced, "Yes, but that's not the last word. God forgives your sin. You won't die for it. But because of your blasphemous behavior, the son born to you will die."
    2 Samuel 12:1-14, The Message

    Read the curse from the passage: "because you treated God with such contempt ... killing and murder will continually plague your family." It doesn't say that David treated Uriah or Bathsheba with contempt, but God. How many times have I done something against a fellow human being that struck God right between the eyes? Every time I've insulted or hurt another person, I've insulted and hurt God. On the flipside, every time I've reached out to help another human being, I've reached out to help God. "I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.'"- Matthew 24:34, The Message

    Has David ever reached out to help another? How about Mephibosheth? Read 2 Samuel 9:6-13 for details. Did that make the supermarket tabloids? Not many of us remember this story.

    David was cursed, and the son from his relationship with Bathsheba died in infancy. David mourned for the child, fasting and praying in sackcloth and ashes for seven days until the child died. Then David ate. He comforted his wife Bathsheba and she bore him a new son named Solomon who later became king.

    The curse came to David in many forms. His son Absalom led a rebellion against his father and was killed. His son Adonijah set himself up as king and plotted to have Solomon and Bathsheba killed. When David announced that Solomon was to become king, Adonijah was killed. After Solomon's peaceful reign, there was continuous rebellion and war until the end of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. So David, and his house, paid for his sins.

    The key, however, to David being on God's good side, however, appears in Psalm 51 - composed to demonstrate his repentance. Read it closely. "You're the One I've violated, and you've seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. I've been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. What you're after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life." - Psalm 51:4-6, The Message

    David repented. David begged God to change him into a new person. David recognized his sin and truly desired to be transformed. This desire, this true repentance is what makes David a man after God's own heart. David truly loved the Lord and desired to please Him. Being a human being, he fell down on the job sometimes.

    Someone out there in blogland may be saying "I am not a sinner like David. I've never killed anybody. I've never committed adultery. I've never even used the Lord's name in vain." Well, maybe you haven't committed the same sins as David. But, as John wrote in 1 John 1:5-10 (The Message),

    This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there's not a trace of darkness in him.

    If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we're obviously lying through our teeth—we're not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin.

    If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.
    So we are all sinners. And, in God's eyes, a white lie to cover up the disappearance of candy is the same as a murder to cover up adultery.

    I love my wife. But I make mistakes that sadden her. My intention may be to better our lives or find a new way to do something. But mistakes happen and someone gets hurt. And I learn from my mistakes. And I take steps to ensure those mistakes do not happen in the future. Very little is worse than my wife being angry with me. It's something I try to avoid.

    It's the same with David and God. David loved God. He didn't consider the consequences of his actions in his relationship with God. He learned from his mistakes and took steps to ensure thos mistakes did not happen in the future. Nothing is worse than God being angry with you. It's something we should all try to avoid.

    Why is David called a man after God's own heart? For the same reason I'm called a man after my wife's own heart. He loved God as I love my wife. He desired to please God as I desire to please my wife. If only I could attain the same relationship with God that David had. The only thing blocking that relationship is me. Won't you pray with me?


    Almighty Heavenly Father, you love us though we do not deserve it. You provide for us when we are not grateful for the provision. And though we are not the ideal servants, you still care for our every move.

    Father, we confess that we have sinned against you because we do not know how to love you. On the one hand, we desire to please you, and on the other hand we chase after earthly gain. We are trying to serve two masters and are learning that we are miserable in this service. Many times, we choose the master with immediate gratification: the master of worldly desire.

    Father, bless us. Bless us with the peace and knowledge that striving to please you is not an empty reward. Help us to understand where true joy lies - in your bosom. Help us to reach the goal of being your good and faithful servants. Help us to be your children - children of whom you are proud.

    We pray this in the Holy Name of your Son, Jesus Christ.


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